Approval in the House readies bill for House-Senate conference negotiations
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA)—the unified and recognized voice of seaports in the Americas—stated today it is pleased that the Water Resources Development Act, or WRDA (H.R. 5303), passed the House last night by a vote of 399 to 25.
With the Senate having approved its version of the bill (S.2848) on Sept. 15 by a vote of 95 to 3, it sets the stage for the final bill to be negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee. AAPA believes it’s crucial that WRDA be reauthorized in this Congress to address the needs of America’s ports and other water resources infrastructure, and help strengthen the nation’s international competitiveness.
According to AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle, among the most important aspects of both the House and Senate versions of the legislation is that it puts WRDA back on an every-two-year cycle, avoiding a backlog of projects and adopting policy changes to make the system work more efficiently and fairly.
“Ensuring the viability and effectiveness of our nation’s deep-draft navigation infrastructure is fundamental to a sound economy,” said Mr. Nagle. “WRDA 2016 helps do that by getting Congress back to the business of regularly addressing the needs of our ports and other waterway infrastructure.
“The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 was historic in that it put our industry and nation on a path towards full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which is essential to maintain a world-class, 21st century port navigation system and providing additional donor equity. WRDA 2016 can continue that progress, and we urge House and Senate conferees to agree as soon as possible on final WRDA 2016 bill language so it is enacted this year.”
Mr. Nagle noted that Congress passed the last water resources reauthorization bill in 2014 after a seven-year hiatus. Passing it again this year will put it back, as intended, on an every-two-year cycle, which hasn’t happened since 2000.
“More than a quarter of America’s economy is accounted for by the export and import cargo that transit in and out of our ports. In order to keep our economic recovery progressing, we must ensure these goods can move efficiently, without avoidable and costly delays caused by inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure,” he added.
He added, “America’s public ports – which generate more than 23 million American jobs and handle 99 percent of our nation’s overseas trade – together with their private-sector partners are investing about $31 billion annually in marine terminal infrastructure. We urge the Senate and the House to reach agreement as quickly as possible on a final bill, enabling the federal government to uphold its end of the partnership by authorizing badly needed investments to waterside connections with seaports.”
About AAPA Founded in 1912, AAPA today represents 140 of the leading seaport authorities in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 250 sustaining and associate members, firms and individuals with an interest in seaports. According to IHS World Trade Service, combined international sea trade moving through Western Hemisphere ports in 2014 totaled 3.48 billion metric tons in volume and US$3.75 trillion in value. Of that total, ports in Central and South America handled 1.68 billion metric tons of cargo valued at US$1.36 trillion, while North American ports handled 1.79 billion metric tons of goods, valued at US$2.39 trillion. To meet the growing demand for trade, the AAPA and its members are committed to keeping seaports navigable, secure and sustainable. For more information, visit www.aapa-ports.org.